Burberry's battles with Humphrey Bogart estate
Burberry is currently caught up in a legal wrangle over the use of an iconic image of the late film star .
Bogart's son Stephen - whose mother is actress Lauren Bacall - filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bogart LLC in Los Angeles on April 10, claiming that the British heritage brand illegally used an image of his father wearing a trench coat in the classic film ‘Casablanca’ to promote their products.
The Bogart estate - which is run by Bogart and Bacall's two children - is seeking "unspecified damages" which could run into millions.
Burberry used the image from the 1942 film across their social media platforms - including Twitter and Facebook pages - to create a "historical timeline" of the brand and the evolution of its products, dating back to its first store opening in 1856, reports ‘The New York Post’ .
Burberry later filed a counter-claim in Manhattan on May 1 defending their use of the image as it "was not directly connected to the sale of any merchandise", and claiming that a licensing fee was paid to the Corbis photo agency for the image.
The brand maintains that their use of the image on their Facebook timeline is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Burberry said Bogart LLC contacted them in April ordering them to cease using the image. Bogart LLC then contacted the company at least two other times and "made a significant monetary demand."
In a further twist, Stephen Bogart has claimed that there is a heavy likelihood that trench coat his father wore in the film was actually made by rival British brand Aquascutum. 'It is well known my father was a loyal Aquascutum customer in his personal life,' the ‘Daily Mail’ have reported Bogart as saying.
The case could well make history because of the combination of social media in advertising, which is a relatively new aspect.
In January this year, the Advertising Standards Agency launched their first ever investigation into a social media advertising complaint.
The investigation was launched after receiving complaints about tweets Rio Ferdinand, Katie Price, cricketer Ian Botham and X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd posted promoting the Snickers chocolate bar.
They all received payment from Mars, the chocolate bar parent company to do so, however the ASA deemed that the messages could not be clearly viewed as adverts.
"This is such an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful action by Burberry," Stephen Bogart, said in a statement released regarding the situation. "What's next, a cigarette company can start an advertising program claiming Bogie smoked its brand, and there's nothing our family can do about it?"
Burberry are yet to comment further.